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A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England, where the office originated. Historically, a sheriff was a legal official with responsibility for a "shire" or county (the word "sheriff" is a contraction of "shire reeve"). In modern times, the specific combination of legal, political and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from county to county.


  • SHERIFF, n. In America the chief executive office of a country, whose most characteristic duties, in some of the Western and Southern States, are the catching and hanging of rogues.
  • It would look very strange, when the Commons of England are so fond of their right of sending representatives to Parliament, that it should be in the power of a sheriff, or other officer, to deprive them of that right, and yet that they should have no remedy; it is a thing to be admired at by all mankind.
    • John Holt, C.J., Ashby v. White (1703), 2 Raym. 954.
  • I do really believe you, Mr. Sheriff; you have done like an honest man.
    • John Keating, C.J., Case of John Price and others (1689), 12 How St. Tr. 625.
  • Sheriff: [Hands Manco the reward money for Red Cavanaugh] Two thousand dollars. It's a lot of money. Takes me three years to earn it!
    Manco: Tell me, isn't the sheriff supposed to be courageous, loyal, and above all, honest?
    Sheriff: Yeah. That he is.
    Manco: [Pulls off sheriff's star and tosses it to the townspeople] I think you people need a new sheriff.
  • The sheriffs of London have been immemorially the sheriff of Middlesex.
    • Joseph Yates, J., Case of John Wilkes (1763), 19 How. St. Tr. 1096.

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